For people with too much stuff, the online freecycle group is a blessing. Members sign up at freecycle.org and then send out “offers” to give away surplus items—furniture, computer accessories, even a usable though battered suitcase. Others reply, sometimes within minutes. The exchange is usually made as a “porch pickup,” without so much as a face-to-face meeting.
As Christmas approached, though, a more human side to the group was evident: “wanted” postings from financially pressed gift-givers. “Wondering if anyone out there has a train set that they are not using anymore,” wrote one parent. “I would love to put one under the Christmas tree for my two-year-old son.” Another sought clothes or boots for a teenage neighbor, “so he will have something under the tree to open.” And one resourceful poster sought “items to use for gift baskets I’m making for extended family for Christmas. Could be anything from packaged candy to tea bags to candles. If you have any thing you’re looking to get rid of, including actual baskets, please let me know.”